Yep, it’s true – Saturday marked the 900th day of my Thousand Days Project. Since January 1st, 2010, I’ve drawn/painted every single day, without fail. That seemed like an almost-ridiculous goal at one point, but the end is definitely in sight now.
I didn’t do anything special for Day 800, because I was well into Birthday Shenanigans Week. Day 700 was the 1st of December, and in addition to chipping away at the numerous paintings I was doing at the time, I drew a quick headshot of a beautiful blonde.
So with all that in mind, I figured that Day 900 needed something out of the ordinary - not a metalflake painting, not a dinosaur, not a sketchbook diary piece. But what?
Meanwhile, one particular illustration of mine has lain dormant for a long time – since September 15th of 2011, to be exact. This has been a long-gestating piece. I first started it in the fall of 2010, but it kept getting set aside in favour of other projects.
The first rough iteration of it looked something like this:
As time went by I slowly got closer to finishing it. In mid-September I did the blueline pencils:
This was scanned and imported into my Photoshop document, and the base illustration was set aside on my bar, waiting for me to do the final linework in ink. Anybody who’s had a drink at my place since then has seen it sitting there, though oddly enough, I don’t recall anybody ever asking about it.
I posted an in-progress picture online the night of the 15th, and walked off to a date with destiny. My whole world changed that night, and definitely without warning. Another story for my memoirs, I guess.
And I’ve seen that illustration almost daily since the fateful night, till it got to the point where it was just part of the furniture.
Until I was finally ready to finish it.
So without further ado (or cryptic remarks), here it is, the fruits of my labour of Day 900/1000:
Had a very nice walk home through the West End via the quieter side streets last night. Felt like I hit a level of inner peace that I haven’t felt in a long, long time.
Now as you may or may not know, the past year has been an incredibly tumultuous one for yours truly. Every couple months has been marked by another sea change – one dramatic shift in tone, content, mood, cast, dialogue, conflict, theme, plot, etc. after another. Bret Taylor circa August of 2011, for example, would be floored by the day-to-day (and especially night-to-night) life of the Bret Taylor from a mere month in the future.
And so it goes.
For a long time I got lost in all this, just struggling to keep my head above water. Maintaining any sense of perspective was an nice idea in the abstract sense, but an impossibility in practical terms. So I did what anyone would do: I tried to keep it on the path, and I adjusted my worldview as I went, based on the current day’s data.
And ultimately? I failed.
You heard me. Failed. And miserably, at that – I lost my path altogether. Let some very (very) important people down, couldn’t live up to heartfelt promises and blood oaths. I dropped the fucking ball altogether, if you must know. Paid an absurdly high price for that failure, too. And in the process lost more than I even knew I had to lose – more than I could ever handle losing again. But then, nobody said any of this was fair , right? I mean, fairness is great as a utopian ideal. But how many times have you actually seen it play out in front of you? Once? Twice?
So. This brings us to yesterday. The morning started out with disappointing news, albeit not the kind of news that could change a man’s life (a cancelled date, if you must know). Yet that news hit me hard, out of all sense of proportion and in a way that left me off-kilter for most of the day. Even my old standby, paint therapy, absolutely could not snap me out of it (of course I publicly blamed paint therapy).
This has never, to my recollection, happened before. A real measure of how far adrift I am right now, you might correctly surmise. I had honestly thought the method to be infallible.
In the end I dragged my much-bruised and abused ego into the kitchen and focused my flagging energies on sustenance instead. Whipped up a mindblowing batch of meaty, chipotle-dominated chili. And when the bulk of that work was done and I was waiting for the mixture to reduce, I turned my attention back to the painting in question.
And goddamn, but everything flowed . Hit exactly the right marks when mixing my glazes – tone, saturation, volume. The highly-reflective silver bits (my trusty Tri-Art Liquid Mirror) drybrushed over the glass bead gel took the phthalo blue and alizarin crimson glazes perfectly . Ditto the more subtle highlights I’d carefully worked in over the past few days.
Then I went out to visit friends. Had a couple drinks, talked some things over, watched some TV. Y’know, everyday stuff.
And made that fateful walk home. And the rest you know. I guess the lesson here is, the therapy won’t take when you’re not receptive to it. But it’ll work when you’re ready.
Deep, I know.
May 6, 2012.
(Not to be confused with the Bret Taylors of September 2011 or January 2012.)
Soundtrack – “Hold On”, by the Alabama Shakes.
So here’s a post that’s long overdue. Back on March 25 (day 810 of the 1,000 Days Project), I woke up to find myself inspired. Hell, maybe even driven. I looked around at all the stuff I’ve been working on, in an attempt to prioritize. And as a means of self-promotion I decided to post in-progress photos online to document the whole day.
Since I’m planning a series of six ballerina paintings, I figured I should start working out the poses I want to use – the final lineart will be drawn from a live model, but I wanted to do my homework this time. So here are the sketches:
With that out of the way, I decided to turn my attention to an Avengers painting commissioned by a friend of mine. Once the masking was done, it struck me just how fortunate I was to have such a perfect venue for painting on a sunny day:
Then I started applying the linework. Instead of the white I always used to use on my metalflake pieces, I went with silver (Tri-Art Liquid Mirror), bronze and copper. It’s only recently that I branched out from the white – the silver was also used on the “For a Dancer” painting, and the copper on the seahorse (AKA “Top Seekrit”) piece.
Pretty soon all that remained to do was signing the Avengers piece:
And finally, the glorious results:
I have to admit, I’m really happy with how this one turned out, especially the metallics in the lineart.
Once that was finished I was still pretty psyched, so I decided to press on:
I really enjoy these large-format paintings. As I’ve mentioned more than once, the plan is to do a series of these pinup-girl paintings, if I can ever get the planets back in the same alignment again. Here’s where I left off that night, after close to nine hours of painting:
And that was day 810. A whole slew of amazing people offered comments and helped me promote this mini-event, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them all:
Nicole Cruickshank, Andrea Waters, Cosca Restaurant, Ned Tobin, Geoff Gauthier, Trevor Ricketts, Ceci Graber, Wes Thompson, Natalie Jean, Bahaneh Grewal, Ron Cooper, Isabell Kinga Markus, Amanda West, Matty Sadorf, John Lee, Bob Cluness, Heather Prost, George Smeltzer, Candice Roach, Keith Perkins, Kelle Belle, Meghan Low, Lola Frost, Vincent Ng, Irving Lau, Todd Hancock and 99.3 CFOX, Opal, Annie Friesen, Melissa Hartfiel, Lorraine Murphy, Jessi Sensabaugh, Yvonne Milroy, Julie Frisina, Jim Dickson, Tina Power, Cathryn Smith, Margaux Wosk, Erika Wallace, Matt Algren, Kimberley Mulla, Jaime Purgavie, Melissa Jones, Wendy Pemberton, and Tess McCann.
(Plus Tequila Mockingbird, Nikki B, the ruggler, Baw-nee and sparklehorss.)
Thank you, one and all. You’re the reason I do this.
Hello again, Faithful Readers. Lately I’ve been getting lots done on the Steinway painting (part of the upcoming Closing Time series, as you undoubtedly already know). Today I worked on putting the lettering on the piano itself. Stencil first:
Time to get my hands dirty:
The artist at work:
And finally, where things stand as of right now:
Some colour left to apply, but this piece will soon be finished for good.
There is much news on the dinosaur front, my friends. Many more of them to draw – I went to the exhibit at Science World yesterday with friends, and I got tons of reference photos and ideas.
They had full-size, moving, interactive mockups of the dinosaurs, plus several fossil skeletons:
Sometimes a painting almost seems to come out of nowhere and touch all kinds of people. Other times, the process can be a lengthy, involved one. In this particular case, it’s a bit of both.
One night last summer I was chatting with a new friend and she happened to mention that she wanted a painting in hot pink . Further to that, she told me that she used to dance, and that she wanted art along that theme – feet and legs in pointe shoes. Time went by and we became much closer. But this idea stayed in my head. In November I drew a rough sketch of her legs and feet in the pointe shoes she’d had since she was a teenager. That original sketch has since been framed and now hangs on her living room wall:
By this point I could see the finished painting in my head pretty clearly. I started creating another of my metalflake paintings with the intention of giving it to her as a Christmas present. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the metalflake pieces take a lot longer to dry in mid-winter, because the shorter days and crappy weather mean a vastly-reduced amount of UV radiation (which speeds the drying process along).
In the end I bought her a Leonard Cohen book for Christmas, and the hot pink painting proceeded oh-so-slowly. A couple days ago I was inspecting the painting and noted that the thick, thick clearcoat was finally dry.
The end of this journey was finally in sight.
On Friday night I found myself at loose ends. I wanted to go do something social with friends, but any and all attempts to make that happen simply failed. So I mixed myself a strong Sailor Jerry’s & Coke, and started masking the painting. The whole process came together pretty quickly, and with the encouragement of my Muse, the painting was soon finished:
So there you have it – the painting was a labour of love, and it’s actually done.
Interestingly enough, I posted updates live on Twitter and then Facebook as the night progressed, and the response was stunning . So much support, so much praise, so many questions, so many people sharing the final image with friends and followers. So, I’d like to thank the people who made this so much easier: Meghan Low, Donna Jaggard, Kelly St-Laurent, Natalie Smith, Mandy Fisher, Nick Voikos, Mark Kretzschmar, Chris Hobrecker, Bruce Ng, Adé Win, Brandy Trudeau, Heather Prost, Liam Rines, Elaine Shiel, Leanne Corrigan, Tony Dunphy, Fiona Flowers, Nicole Crosby, Sean Parrack, Elizabeth Whalen, Jaime Purgavie, Melissa Hartfiel, Ceci Graber, Dale Deruiter, Vince Ng, Melissa Berg, John Lee, Dilara Litonjua, Cathy Browne, Risto Paalanen, Emily Brandt, Jackie McCaughan, Nick Routley, Amanda West, Christine Warner, Kathleen Ralph, Gary Hayden, Donna Jay-Crowe, Tina Power, Tom Van Hoose, Jackie Teel, Geoff Seymour, Winnie Huang, James Dickson, Marion Vincent, Sarah Merris, Katherine Bowes Pieters, Jewel Staite, Paulette Brown, John Bell …
… and Tess McCann, without whom this would never have even been conceivable.
So. One month of 2012 is done already. Not exactly one of my better ones, though I’m slowly coming to accept that maybe January will always suck.
Anyhow, January’s done, so February’s a (minor) fresh start, right? Lots happening artwise, as is often the case. There’s a whole raft of metalflake paintings that will hopefully be finished soon. Including a piece I called “For a Dancer” (after the Jackson Browne song of the same name):
What you’re seeing here is a mockup, of course. I first envisioned this painting back in August after one of those life-changing late-night conversations. But when I mocked up the whole thing up tonight, I have to admit I was taken aback just a bit. This is a very personal piece, so it’s gratifying to see the emotional impact it has.
“I don’t remember losing track of you,
You were always dancing in and out of view,
I must have thought you’d always be around.”
Moving on to the next item on the agenda, I’m sharing this from Franziska San Pedro’s blog, entitled “How The Internet Can Change Your Life.” Interesting reading.
And finally, I’ve posted a couple new t-shirt designs to my RedBubble store just in time for Valentine’s Day:
Carry on, then.
12×24 inches, acrylic on canvas.
Probably the final post of the year, so I thought I’d talk a little about 2012. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been doing sketches for a show called “Closing Time” – a series of pinup girls against the backdrop of bars and other drinking establishments (two subjects near and dear to my own heart).
Well, just one beautiful pinup girl, to be honest.
Anyhow, I procured a 36×36-inch canvas from the good people at Opus Art Supplies today, brought it home, scratched my chin, and thought about what I could do with such a canvas:
Of course the answer was obvious: I could plunge into the Closing Times series. Now, I’ve been giving these a lot of thought lately – figuring out how I might render them, whether or not I should incorporate some texture, etc. etc. (I must admit, the subject of these hypothetical paintings has been strolling through my subconscious on a regular basis, too.)
Anyhow, after some deliberation I figured out the approach I want to take with this series, and shockingly, it’s a much simpler, more minimalist route than the one I take with the Metalflake paintings.
So, you’ve seen various iterations of this already, but a number of tweaks have been made to this design since:
(And keep in mind, of course, that this is just a mockup, not the actual painting.)
All that being said, I will be applying the first blue washes to this piece tomorrow, and we’ll see where things go from there. And if you want to see where I go with this one, Loyal Reader…
… well, you’ll just have to wait and see.
Gather ’round, children, and I’ll tell you a tale of happiness and Yuletide joy. Once upon a time there were a boy and a girl who fell in love. And they both loved art, which is a good thing, ’cause otherwise this would be the end of the story.
Now this couple (let’s call them, oh, “Dan and Donna”) already had several paintings by a local Artiste (let’s call him, oh, “me”). And they wanted more. So “Dan” contacted the Artiste in question and asked about commissioning a portrait of “Donna”. The Artiste, of course, was quite enthusiastic about such a project, because he loved painting (and truth be told, he was also somewhat fond of financial remuneration).
So Dan and the Artiste struck a deal, and work began. And shortly thereafter, the Artiste heard from Donna, who wished to purchase a painting called “Ace of Spades” as a present for Dan.
This pleased the Artiste to no end.
(An amusing side note: after the deal was struck with Donna, Dan contacted the Artiste again, this time to inquire about purchasing the Ace of Spades painting. The Artiste expressed sympathy and apologetically told Dan the painting was already spoken for.)
The Artiste was understandably amused by all this subterfuge, and with uncharacteristic restraint, only told a couple of people.
Okay, a whole bunch of people. But not Donna or Dan, which is key.
Meanwhile, work continued on the portrait of Donna:
And time passed, as it usually does. The painting and the Artiste found themselves disagreeing from time to time, but with the help of the Artiste’s lovely and talented Muse, the painting was finished with an entire day to spare.
On Christmas morning, paintings were exchanged, Donna and Dan were happy, and there was much rejoicing throughout the land.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Further thoughts on the latest show/series concept: the title will be “Closing Time”, after the Leonard Cohen song of the same name. And when the show happens, people will have the option of buying the original paintings, or buying a book of the preliminary sketches.
Two more from the past few nights, then:
More info as it occurs to me, obviously.
So December is upon us – one month left in this tumultuous year. Like a lot of people I’m already thinking about 2012, of course. I’d very much like to maintain the creative momentum I’ve built up in 2010 and 2011, if not add to it.
Already got ideas for a couple of big projects – two potential new shows, and a book to accompany one of them. One of the shows will most likely be a metalflake series, but it’s the other that concerns us here. Been toying with the idea of exploring the pinup-girl subject again, following the success of my book, Hey Ladies . And on that note, after much discussion, sketching and brainstorming, I’ve concluded that the other new series will be pin-up girls in or on bars.
To wit, here’s the proposal for the first of the series:
Haven’t made any major decisions in terms of rendering style, etc. I do know they’ll be acrylic on canvas, but beyond that… ?
Hello again. I haven’t had much to say this past week; the Metal Flake show kinda left me drained. Been picking away at some illustration work and loosely planning two more shows, but nothing significant has gotten accomplished.
What seems to be dominating my psyche these days is a Top Secret Painting. I’m still keeping the details on the down-low, but think of it as a hymn to the Muse.
Overall piece here, prior to clearcoating and such:
And of course, the teaser:
Stay tuned, faithful readers. Further clues will be revealed in time.